Chapter 13, Class # 2

Middle of Chapter 13

אך מאחר שהרע שבחלל השמאלי בבינוני הוא בתקפו כתולדתו, להתאות תאוה לכל תענוגי עולם הזה

Yet, inasmuch as the evil in the left part of the Beinoni’s heart is in its native strength, craving after all the pleasures of this world,

ולא נתבטל במיעוט לגבי הטוב ולא נדחה ממקומו כלל

and is neither so minute as to be nullified before the good of the divine soul (as is the case with a tzaddik), nor has it been displaced from its position to any degree,

רק שאין לו שליטה וממשלה להתפשט באברי הגוף

but merely lacks authority and power to become diffused throughout the limbs of the body to cause them to do, speak or think evil; nor is the evil’s lack of ability attributable to the Beinoni’s efforts, for his evil, like that of the rasha, retains its native strength to pervade the entire body; rather, the evil is powerless merely

מפני הקב״ה העומד לימין אביון, ועוזר ומאיר לנפש האלקית

because of the Holy One, blessed be He, who “stands at the right hand of the poor man,” helping him and irradiating his divine soul so that it may be able to prevail over the evil.

Thus it is only Divine intervention that prevents the evil from pervading the body; essentially, however, the evil of the Beinoni’s animal soul is as strong as it was at birth.

לכן נקרא כרשע, כמאמר רז״ל: אפילו כל העולם כולו אומרים לך צדיק אתה, היה בעיניך כרשע

Therefore [the Beinoni] is described as being “k‘rasha” (“like a rasha”), but not actually a rasha, as in the statement of our Sages, “Even if the whole world tells you that you are a tzaddik, be in your own eyes like a rasha.”

ולא רשע ממש

He should not [regard himself as] an actual rasha, for the Mishnah admonishes,5 “Be not wicked in your own estimation.”

Moreover, regarding oneself as a rasha hinders one from serving G‑d joyfully.

אלא שיחזיק עצמו לבינוני

Rather, one should consider oneself a Beinoni,

ולא להאמין להעולם שאומרים שהרע שבו נתבטל לגבי הטוב, שזו מדרגת צדיק

and should not believe i.e., accept the world’s opinion which would have him believethat the evil in him has been nullified by the good, for this is the level of atzaddik.

Only the tzaddik succeeds in nullifying and transforming the evil within him. But the “world”, which judges the Beinoni by his actions and sees that he never transgresses, assumes that he too has effectively banished from within him the evil that is the cause of sin; consequently, people regard him as a tzaddik.

He is therefore cautioned against accepting the opinion of “the world.”

אלא יהיה בעיניו כאלו מהותו ועצמותו של הרע הוא בתקפו ובגבורתו בחלל השמאלי כתולדתו

Instead, he should take the view that the essence and core of the evil is in its full native strength and might, in the left part of his heart,

ולא חלף והלך ממנו מאומה

not having vanished or departed from him at all.

ואדרבה נתחזק יותר בהמשך הזמן שנשתמש בו הרבה

On the contrary, with the passage of time [the evil] has gained strength because he utilized it i.e., the animal soul considerably,

באכילה ושתיה ושאר עניני עולם הזה

in eating and drinking and in other mundane pursuits.

As with every faculty, constant use of the animal soul causes it to become even stronger than it was at birth.

The Alter Rebbe thus concludes that the words “consider yourself ‘like arasha’” mean that one must consider himself a Beinoni. The above applies even to those who have reached a lofty spiritual level; they too should consider themselves Beinonim. For should one consider himself a tzaddik and maintain that the evil within him has already been nullified by the good, he will cease to do battle with the evil. If he is mistaken and is not in fact a tzaddik, such an unfounded attitude can cause him to slip drastically from his level, descending even lower than the level of a Beinoni to that of a rasha.

5. Avot 2:13.

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